Maxim Saves Journalism
July 26, 2002 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Maxim Saves Journalism "The reason the notion of Maxim saving journalism is funny is because everyone buys into this holier-than-thou notion that Maxim, because it dares to package itself in an easily digestible format and obsess over the real concerns of real people instead of operating on a higher theoretical plain, is anti-intellectual, maybe even partly responsible for what’s being called the “dumbing down of America.” That’s the squawking canard I’m going to try to chop the head off of today. I’m going to take you behind the titillating eye candy and show you what Maxim really is, and how it’s part of a growing movement already blowing the cobwebs out of a truly ancient and intransigent industry." (via medianews)
posted by owillis (36 comments total)
I only buy it for the articles...
posted by fncll at 10:06 AM on July 26, 2002

Maxim is fun to read, but it's mostly badly written (Rosie O'Donnel jokes notwithstanding) and each issue is a carbon copy of the one that preceded it.

And all the chicks in it, while fundamentally hot, look like they were groomed by a serial killer -- i.e., stiff and lacquered.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:06 AM on July 26, 2002

I was thinking about posting this link myself when I saw it.

What is there to say other than that this man is an idiot who has quite the overblown vision of himself and his publication. And the way he overdoes metaphor says to me that he is pretty insecure about the quality of his writing.

I mean, Maxim is fine for what it is, a print combination of the E! network, softcore, and the kooky little tips you might get from some guy at your local Hooters. If people want to read this crap, fine. But the idea that they're saving a poor moribund old industry from itself is just stupid. I have (and am) evidence that there is an audience for good cultural journalism, and real news and analysis that doesn't read as if written by a sixteen year old that just graduated from his very first creative writing class.
posted by lackutrol at 10:14 AM on July 26, 2002

Note to self: stock up on lacquer.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:24 AM on July 26, 2002

because it dares to package itself in an easily digestible format and obsess over the real concerns of real people

That's where it lost me. Far as I can tell, one person is as "real" as another.
posted by rushmc at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2002

I like Maxim. I like People Magazine. I like tabloids. I like Hustleer. I like Dante and Milton and Shakespeare too. Some like oranges and some like apples. Without getting frutity about this, it is all an expression of God's wonders.
posted by Postroad at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2002

ha ha ha postroad said God
posted by xmutex at 10:53 AM on July 26, 2002

Without getting frutity about this

posted by BlueTrain at 10:53 AM on July 26, 2002

His equation of large readership with cultural salience/importance is invalid. The part of the population that actually participates in the culture is small, the rest merely consume. This shrill man is wasting his breath trying to sanctify the shoveling of fuel onto that fire.

Much as I agree that editors are often snooty little shits, the fact is that they are like the monks that guard the library through the ages. I wish they were cooler too, but I'd rather live with their tight little assholes than without them entirely.
posted by scarabic at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2002

the squawking canard

I can't wait to use that in a sentence.

*looks at supervisor*
posted by adampsyche at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2002

This carp is frat-boy rhetoric at its worst, an overzealous attempt to defend the skinmag that is Maxim with ten cent words and phrases.

But, oh, Maxim readers can build flamethrowers with cigarettes and pick up chicks at funerals.

I've no problem at all with skinmags or silly "men's interests" magazines such as these, but to defend them as anything else, or even the savior of journalism is crapola.
posted by xmutex at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2002

Are Maxim readers well informed? Can they trust Maxim to tell them what they need to know about what's going on in the world? Hardly. Maxim is entertainment. It's not "saving" anything. Entertainment has always been able to make money.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2002

The gung-ho, pissed-off-Tony-Robbins-on-coke tone of this guy's speech is not entirely pleasant, and his point is not completely original (Maxim's secret is it reached and untapped market, and outsmarted boring competitors like GQ and Esquire, really hot news)
And, the Michigan stadium slide trick is kind of third-rate, the kind that makes you want to get out of the room

But you have to admit that he makes sense in that he's making a profit for his employer (the publisher), and he doesn't try to make his magazine look better than it actually is -- just an unimaginative girlie magazine with the occasional reference to cars, contact sports, fellatio. But a profitable magazine nonetheless

It's very uncool of him to attack the New Yorker and put it in the Vanity Fair, Talk class -- it is very different from those other magazines, it does not lose as much money, it is not as pathethic, its business model has a good chance of becoming successful (the publisher simply does not want to make the necessary, not really painful cuts -- Newhouse is funny like that)

It all happened already 20 years ago in the daily business, USA Today really changed some rules (more infographics, different and easier layouts, lighter content, shorter pieces)

It doesn’t mean I never want to read six thousand words. But that isn’t what a magazine is today. That’s what a book is.
In his delusion of omnipotence, the man does not realize that it's about hitting different markets and being successful in those: there's room in the market for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Mother Jones and many other smaller less expensive (to make) magazines with smaller circulation numbers that actually have some kind of intelligent content besides Sarah Michelle Gellar's breasts (not that there's nothing wrong with her breasts, by the way).
It's different markets, there's a variety of magazines with different target readers
God bless Maxim's success, but really, it would be sad if every magazine was just like it
posted by matteo at 11:02 AM on July 26, 2002

Did you get the part where he said that Maxim has a staff of 35? 35 for an 11 million circulation monthly.

Vanity Fair probably has that many people just to touch up Graydon's hair and make sure no girl larger than a size 4 crosses his path on his 20 foot walk from the Town Car to the dining room at Le Cirque and ruins his appetite.
posted by MattD at 11:12 AM on July 26, 2002

Maxim reads and looks like a staff of 35 produces it. Chintzy.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:19 AM on July 26, 2002

pshaw, i think oliver is just posting this to get on the good side of maxim's editors.
posted by lotsofno at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2002

Here's an article by an ex-editor that says pretty much the exact opposite of Willis' link.
posted by queequeg at 11:42 AM on July 26, 2002

I remember the day my girlfriend found a copy of my roommate's issue of Maxim lying around the house. There was a column entitled "How To Trick Your Girlfriend Into Having Anal Sex." When I got home, the magazine was lying on the couch with the word "Trick" circled and underlined. Despite my plea that it wasn't my magazine, I didn't get any for a while.
posted by rex at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2002

we’re in 14 countries now, if you count Canada as a sovereign nation

posted by timeistight at 11:57 AM on July 26, 2002

I always thought Maxim was for guys who didn't have the guts to buy real porn.

Despite my plea that it wasn't my magazine, I didn't get any for a while.

Ahahaha... ouch.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2002

I believe a large part of Maxim's success is that it's perfect for reading in the bathroom.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2002

As long as buying Maxim is a voluntary act undertaken by consumers who have a choice of other products in the same category, I have to say that, yes, it is a smashing success. Nobody is forced to buy the thing. Nobody stands in front of the magazine rack and says, "Hmmm, which magazine shall I buy, Maxim or Scientific American?"
posted by Faze at 12:50 PM on July 26, 2002

Did anyone else wonder where he buys his six thousand word books? Must be the smallest damn bookstore on the planet. I've been hunting for it with my literary microscope all day, but no luck so far...
posted by rusty at 1:14 PM on July 26, 2002

The part of the population that actually participates in the culture is small, the rest merely consume. - scarabic

Well, first of all, that is just entirely wrong, according to _any_ definition of culture I have ever laid eyes on.

But that idea is intricately woven into the cloth of the snooty wanna-be-aristocrat mentality. The plain fact is that people like scarabic have a superego that is repressing their ego and id; they try to live up to a standard that they themselves do not really enjoy.

It's analogous to all the dorks in high school wearing whatever sneakers the "cool kids" are wearing. scarabic would say that the dorks are not part of the culture, they're just consuming. (As an interesting side note, what's the difference between a "cool kid" and a dork who just happened to pick the right pair of jeans off the Gap shelf at the right time?)

You can live up to some standard of what you think is "ethical, cool, tasteful," or whatever you choose. You won't be happy until your standard is "what I like." And let's face it, for 100 Michigan stadiums full of people Maxim is "what I like." (Need I even say that the _real_ definition of culture is the grand total of everybody's "what I like" for some group of people?)

Have fun in therapy, scarabic..
posted by zekinskia at 1:19 PM on July 26, 2002

he doesn't try to make his magazine look better than it actually is

That's the job of the airbrusher.
posted by maura at 1:29 PM on July 26, 2002

Nobody stands in front of the magazine rack and says, "Hmmm, which magazine shall I buy, Maxim or Scientific American?"

Now there an impossible-to-substantiate claim if ever I saw one. Do you really find such a situation unimaginable?
posted by rushmc at 1:31 PM on July 26, 2002

rushmc: Yes! Scientific American readers already know how to make binaca flamethrowers and potato guns.
posted by rusty at 1:38 PM on July 26, 2002

Actually, nowadays, Scientific American is now just a slightly more expensive imitation of Discover. All the real alpha geeks have switched to American Scientist.
posted by bshort at 1:43 PM on July 26, 2002

rushmc, I can't substantiate it, except to refer to my own experience of the world. I mean, do people go into music stores and say, "Hmm, which shall I buy, N'Sync or Master P? I don't know. The A*Teens look pretty good. But then again, there's that new White Stripes album..."
posted by Faze at 1:57 PM on July 26, 2002

bshort: keeping us all abreast of the alpha geeks. His advice is solid, in my experience.

Maxim is Playboy for guys who drink Bud. And, yes, we've bred a lot of them in the past 20 years. *They're everywhere you look.*

If you want to see what a good magazine is, check out old Playboy's. From the 60's and 70's. In the last one I read, the interview was with a very young Jesse Jackson, there was an article by a U.S. senator (about the 1968 elections, which were a prequel to the 2000 elections), the fiction was by John Updike. Sure maxim-editor-guy, it was more than 500 words. But they were good words.

The people who hang out here are at least one full standard deviation from the norm. Is it surprising that we all find it shocking that there are 11 million guys reading maxim every month?
posted by zpousman at 2:12 PM on July 26, 2002

"Hmmm, which magazine shall I buy, Maxim or Scientific American"

Sorry, but I've done exactly that. I only had seven bucks, and wanted something to read on the plane. Those two were the finalists.
posted by Nothing at 2:32 PM on July 26, 2002

I think you underestimate (and undervalue) the eclecticism of some people, Faze.
posted by rushmc at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2002

lotsofno found out my secret. *winks at Felix Dennis*
posted by owillis at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2002

Christ. The only thing Maxim saved was Felix Dennis's blushes, since it rescued itself in the USA after showing up late to the Loaded party over here. And the idea that Dennis represents any source of principle... well, he does own MacUser, I suppose.
posted by riviera at 4:28 AM on July 27, 2002

I thought the lads mag party was pretty much over.
posted by Summer at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2002

What I meant is that next year, 90% of the population will be wearing whatever is in the stores, listening to whatever is on the radio, reading whatever Oprah is reading. If you call consuming culture a way of belonging to one, then you're right. Everyone's an active participant.

But when I say participant, I mean the small percentage of people who set these standards and those who blaze trails away from the mainstream. The percentage of people who produce some cultural commodity that can be consumed is tiny next to the proportion of the teeming horde ready to plunk down nine bucks for an action flick.

So to bandy about the cultural importance of Maxim as a work of journalism, based on its circulation numbers alone, is like saying that the TV Guide is our era's most important periodical because SO MANY PEOPLE BUY IT. Sure, anything that lots of people are into is significant, I was an American Studies major so I definitely agree with that. But that's why I threw the word "salient" into the mix. Salient = important. Maxim is not important. Let's not forget that holmes is hailing his publication as the holy grail of journalism.

Dorks are people, too, rest assured. In fact, being "cool" is the leading indicator of having an imitation-based identity. I hope that this concession smooths a few of your feathers back, because you're arguing some other issue.
posted by scarabic at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2002

« Older Smoke 'em if you can get 'em?   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments